One of my favorite bloggers is LenPenzo. He’s one of the original personal finance bloggers and sometimes writes nonsense and talks a lot about the gold standard. He’s from Southern California as well, and represents a conservative financial and political outlook that I’m very comfortable. I grew up in that kind of culture, although I am more politically left now. It’s hard not to be when you take care of children as a pediatrician in an underserved area. But LenPenzo has been blogging forever and he’s still my internet hero. I stop by his blog now and again, and leave comments. Len’s dad passed away recently and he left a short post on his blog https://lenpenzo.com/blog/id63332-black-coffee-10-oct-2020.html.
This post is almost two weeks overdue. I was not really moved to write this post earlier because the secondary environmental net positives were flowing this month. Every action I took this month, seemed to just lead to less clutter in our house, something upcycled or a change that became organically emeshed with my psyche – that I didn’t even feel the need to list it on my iPhone. This blog has alwys been about keeping motivated to make changes for the earth and September I needed very little motivation.
I have been on a cleaning rampage since last night and early this morning. There will be no beach cleanup this morning because I had to clean up my own house. Mr. Plastic Picker heard it, for sure. Blending families is always difficult, and even after 20 years the fundamental truth is my family is more preoccupied with cleanliness than his. Perhaps that is why I’m Dr. Plastic Picker? I’m trying to clean up the world’s oceans. But last night and this morning, I had to do a more mundane task – clean up my own house.
I forgot why I did not write last week’s Hopeful Wednesday post? Let me think. [pause] Yes now I remember. I had been a bit overwhelmed on Tuesday with some HR issues and an avalanche of environmental work. The mood in the country was dark with the coronavirus as well. This week I had been getting semi-harassing text messages from a climate leader in a different part of the state. One of the climate groups is trying to get a letter with thousands of signatures. In principle I completely agree, but there has already been multiple letters written and the New England Journal of Medicine published a definitive editorial and endorsed a Biden administration. It seems like everyone is doing the same thing, and everyone wants to get their voice heard. I listened to the other physician climate advocate who is retired, but I felt semi-harassed. I honestly have a network of folks but I don’t want to exhaust them. Most of us work, and getting another thing to do which I’m not sure even makes a difference is not high-yield. Plus we had nothing to do with the content of the letter and they just want our signatures without any input. I’m not of the top-down environmental movement approach. Our committees are just our friend-group, so we have to do things together organically and make it fun. Plus the letter and the speaker was kind of preachy. Dr. Plastic Picker does not like preachy.
Our tween daughter and I finished watching the documentary “RBG” yestserday in preparation for our Cadette Girl Scout Meeting. It was a special night to have the time to watch it with her and answer her questions, and watch her expressions. It was meaningful for so many reasons. As someone who considers myself of a historical bent, I did earn my undergraduate degree in History of Science, I am always curious as the origins of quotes. The original quote that RBG credited but is often forgotten by our modern society comes from Sarah Grimke https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Moore_Grimk%C3%A9.
Time has slowed down for me. Other than litter-picking and making home-made apple-cider vinegar, that is my new super power. Time has slowed down. Yesterday was an odd Wednesday. I usually work in the mornings and am “OFF” in the afternoon (but who is really OFF right?). But we had a “Diversity” Leadership Meeting that was virtual in the morning, and then I worked in the afternoon. I was incredibly upset after the Diversity Leadership meeting which had over 500 attendees. It was a corporate attempt to address racial justice in health care. Our HMO is light-years ahead of everyone, yet we are all so behind. I made some comments in the chat box about hiring more black doctors, but was dismissed as being too political by another physician leader. I know when to push and when to stand back plus I was one of 500 attendees. It was not the venue to waste efforts. So I just listened laying in bed.
Dr. Plastic Picker has given me the gift of reconnecting with friends. We are going through this period of shared panic and grief, and now action regarding the climate. Recently I checked back in with Dr. Young-Ho Yoon, who will forever be my senior resident from Mans Greatest Hospital. He continues to work as an outpatient private practice pediatrician in the Boston area, and being the center of his community of family, friends and patients. Pediatricians are powerful and connected figures. His is also living in a two-MD household and we were sharing common frustrations of educating kids during the pandemic. He shared with me some pretty awesome spreadsheets regarding different childcare options, that is just how organized and precise his mind is. Remember, he is the senior resident that drilled into me proper fluid management and a love of renal physiology. To this day, it has remained a strength for me and I hardly every need to IV a patient as I vigorously push oral rehydration because I know the details on Sodium and Potassium concentrations for most intravenous and oral solutions and common foods/drinks and can explain it well to parents. We had a beloved renal attending who would always look at urine samples for the residents at any time of day, and I was sent several times from the inpatient floor by Dr. Young-Ho when I was an intern to bring the urine sample to this attending’s lab. Dr. Linshaw would call it liquid gold. I often tell that story to my patients when I ask for urine samples, and I think of Dr. Linshaw and Young-Ho when I think of how much a urine sample can tell you about someone’s health.
Yesterday morning I was in the state of FLOW. The creativity and the environmental work was flowing. I organized multiple projects for San Diego Pediatricians for Clean Air, AAP-CA3 Climate Change and Health, and various work projects. And then the real world intruded, and I had a full slate of patients. It was a good day, but emotionally draining due to one interaction. It’s interesting how the chaos in patients’ lives spills over into the lives of their doctors. As pediatricians we try to put up professional barriers but when parents delve into conpsiracy theories and choose not to vaccinate their children and put their children at risk – it’s one of the few things that can make any pediatrician irate especially if that young baby has fever. Yes ma’am, I’m telling you to go to the ED or a nearby urgent care clinic during a pandemic because your baby can be septic and at least needs blood work, urine cath, and a COVID test since you are not in our service area right now. Your baby may need a spinal tap, and it’s your own damn fault and the Lord help that baby that did not chose to be born to these set of parents. Did I say those words out loud that every pediatrician has thought? Of course not. But the irritability I’m sure comes across in my tone when the parents go off onto different tangents. As a pediatrician, it’s very important to stay focused when you are dealing with sleep deprived newborn parents that are crazy enough to believe the anti-vaxers. Yes I want high patient satisfaction scores, but I more want to make sure that baby does not die. I have realized afterwards that those same parents were suffering post-partum depression, actively using drugs, undergoing spousal abuse, homeless, or maybe just experienced some sort of trauma in their former home country and now has an inherent distrust of all large government-like systems (which includes the medical establishment). I in no way blame parents, but I deliver stern advice as I know my hair is grey underneath my monthly hair-dye. Ma’am, do you want me to call you tomorrow and check in on how you are doing on my day off (I of course did not say the last part)? Angry reply and tears, “I’d like to hang up so I can call those numbers that you gave me.” So my words had the intended effect to make her semi-panic and seek care and not sit on that fever for another 24 hours. With true sincerity I said, “I wish you the best of luck and please drive carefully.” Anyway, it’s frustrating right? I got home and some of that irritation spread to our dinner time as we were trying to throw pasta together and not get take-out. The kids were trying to tell me about their school progress, and I listened but not fully. I’ll ask them again about it today.
The world is in chaos these days. I was obsessively checking CNN and Politico since Thursday night, since every time I checked someone else who I would think of as evil doers was getting COVID-19 due to not wearing mask. But as a pediatrician and generally one that does not wish anyone harm (I just wish they would not get reelected), I realize that it is a sad situation for the country. I think the moral of the story is not to doctor shop. When you have a good physician who does not bow to your every whim, then probably you have someone who cares about you and will take care of you rather than worrying about “satisfaction” scores. Again, it’s just sad all around. I do not wish harm to befall on anyone. I do wish the next administration will help stop climate change.
One of the neighborhood cats was stalking our two bunnies who live on our second story balcony! I had been hearing some commotion out there and figured it was just Peter and Bella hopping around. But it was a cat! Apologies to all the cat lovers out there, but our household is definitely a bunny and dog house. I was so mad! I may not dote on our bunnies but I do love them, and any vet bills would cost hundreds of dollars. Once Peter had some congestion and Mr. Plastic Picker took him into the bunny vet and Peter needed Azithromycin for $150! It looked exactly like the Azithromycin I prescribe to kids. Mr. Plastic Picker wanted to leave them out there, but I insisted on bringing them in the house. So the married bunnies in our house hopped back inside and will just shed like crazy indoors When I spied the neighborhood cat on the rooftop where she had leaped onto our awning, I was so mad. I grabbed one of the bunnies dried poop pellets and threw it at her while it was pitch dark! Go away you killer of songbirds!